As a parent, your child’s safety is at the top of your list of priorities: you did a lot of research to determine which foreign import vehicle had the best crash-test safety ratings in order to protect your family from danger, and you make it your business to drive as safely and carefully as possible to keep your precious cargo out of harm’s way. Your commitment to safety now that you have a baby on board doesn’t stop there- choosing the right car seat is every bit as important as anything else you do to ensure your child’s health and well-being. Here are some tips for choosing a car seat for your child, so you can have the ultimate peace of mind that your child is protected against danger in the face of a collision.
Read your vehicle owner’s manual- Not all car seats are created equal, and some brands or styles may not be compatible with your car make or model. Since car seats can be installed using the rear seat belts or the LATCH system, you’ll want to determine if your car supports LATCH and has the correct components. These days, most four-seater models come standard with LATCH attachments, but if you drive a late-model or classic import vehicle, chances are it will not have these components, which is something to consider when choosing a car seat for your child.
Know your child’s correct height and weight- Selecting the right car seat depends largely on the age and size of your child. Infants under the age of 2should be placed in rear-facing car seats, while children over the age of 2 can use front-facing car seats. Children over the age of 4, or who weigh more than 40 pounds, can use a booster seat instead of a car seat. Some car seat models are convertible, meaning that they can go from rear-facing to front-facing as the child grows. It is also important to keep in mind that your child’s age is just a standard guideline for the car seat they should use- for example, if your child is over 4 years of age but is on the small side for height and weight, she should continue using the car seat over a booster seat until she weighs at least 40 pounds. Conversely, a toddler with an above-average height and weight for his age may be more comfortable and safe in a front-facing car seat even if he is under 2 years of age. Your pediatrician can help you determine which type of car seat is best for your child at every age.
Choose a tough seat to get out of- Little fingers can quickly figure out how to undo simple clasps and latches, and you already know that your toddler can be a real little escape artist when she wants to be! Choosing a car seat with two retainer clips and a 5-point harness system will make unbuckling the safety straps much more complicated for your little one, ensuring that she will not make any surprise escapes while the car is in motion.
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